Acne is the most common skin condition affecting people in the United States. While it is most common in teenagers and young adults, anyone can develop acne at any age. If you are in need of acne treatments, we can help you made the best decision for your goals.
Types of Acne
There are several different types of acne, and they range in severity. Acne can be inflammatory or non-inflammatory. Inflammatory acne is caused by a bacterial infection and it results in swollen and red pimples. Non-inflammatory acne does not involve bacterial infections, and the blemishes are not red or swollen.
Blackheads and whiteheads are types of non-inflammatory acne. They are also the mildest type of acne, and they are sometimes called comedones. Both are caused by clogged pores. Blackheads have an open top, and their color is caused by the debris in the pore. Whiteheads have a closed top and thus appear whitish.
The other types of acne are all inflammatory. A papule or pimple is caused by the pore’s walls rupturing and releasing oil and bacteria into the surrounding skin and thus creating a red and swollen spot. A pustule resembles a pimple, but it also contains pus.
Nodules and cysts are the most severe form of acne, and they are caused by the infection penetrating the skin’s deeper layers. There are different acne treatments that can be used to address each specific type of acne.
When Should You See a Dermatologist?
A patient with the milder types of acne can use over-the-counter drugs and treat their acne at home – at least at first. If the patient doesn’t see any improvement after ten or twelve weeks, it’s time to call the professionals. If the acne is actually getting worse despite treatment, they definitely need to see the dermatologist.
A patient with cystic or nodular acne should always call a dermatologist. Over-the-counter drugs won’t work on such severe acne. Moreover, cystic and nodular acne are the types most likely to cause scars. Professional acne treatments are likely the only option.
A patient who is over 30 and has no history of acne should have their blemishes examined by a doctor. Some skin conditions, like folliculitis or rosacea, can look a lot like acne but require completely different treatments. Similarly, if a patient isn’t sure that their blemishes are caused by acne, they should have them examined.
How Is Acne Treated?
There are many acne treatments available, and our dermatologist will choose one depending on the type of acne and its severity. If the patient has a mild case, the dermatologist will often choose a topical treatment that will reduce the oil in the patient’s skin and/or kill the bacteria. In more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics or opt for another treatment.